About Us

Chris and Dennis are traveling around the country seeing the sights and occasionally volunteering at select locations. We avoid the interstate as much as we can and tend to stop for squirrels and shiny objects.

Saturday, February 25, 2017

A little of this, a little of that - Yuma

rainy_day_HDRLast week we had high winds and dust storms followed by an odd occurance for Yuma - rain. Being past camp hosts in Oregon and hence considered experts in the quality of rain, I must say we were impressed. For almost a full 24 hours we had a steady albeit light rain fall; some say it seemed like the yearly rainfall for Yuma all wrapped into one day. After the 3 days of strong winds and dust storms it was a welcome relief and an air cleanser for sure. Now to dispose of the sand dunes inside the motorhome.

One of the questions we got this past month is “What neat things have you seen?” and that brings us to a confession of sorts. For the most part, we have tended to stay close to the motorhome and not really do the tourist thing. We work on our hobbies, read, do maintenance and basically just kick back. It boils down to what we are doing and full-timing is a lifestyle, not just a never ending vacation. Shoot, if we stayed in vacation mode every day we would quickly become totally exhausted and definitely pennyless. So, we do what most people do in a home, ours just has wheels and okay, yea, we go vacation mode alot more often.

roadrunner2Case in point, my sister and brother-in-law will be arriving down here in about a week and in anticipation of their vacation, we have put off visiting some of the more popular sights so we have something we can experience together. I figure this coming month will be our vacation too. Of course that doesn't mean we haven't already done some neat stuff on our own.

As you might have gathered in our last entry “Observations” we do spend a good deal of time people watching and in order to do so, we have had to visit those places where people tend to congregate. While Walmart can be an outstanding place to observe the human condition, another more realistic one is a venue called The Arizona Marketplace. This outdoor flea market initially had us envisioning something like the massive market we found in Quartzsite last year. marketplaceSadly, that wasn't the case during our first visit with vendors outnumbering the shoppers probably 2 to 1. At first I was a bit confused, here we were in a relatively warm, sheltered marketplace with all sorts of things to see and yet there weren't very many people. Okay, I'm just a tad slow – the reason there were so few people was they were all at the show in Quartzsite! Since the RV show concluded things have picked up in earnest and our weekly visit to the marketplace is now often met crowds that make it difficult to walk the aisles without bumping into someone.

On the bright side, the large number of people make for excellent people watching conditions and unlike Walmart we get the added bonus of the occasional people with pets. Interesting side note here: things can get really fun if you happen to have a squeaky toy. Not that I would ever carry a squeaky toy – out in the open. We'll leave it at that.

Tonight we'll be cooking outdoors. Nothing special since we usually do so when the weather allows. I only mention it because we will be dining with the sunset.


Friday, February 10, 2017

Yuma – Observations

IMG_20170206_111228881What is RV'ing? To travel to new and exciting places so you can park and fix the things you broke while traveling to new and exciting places.

In the urban dictionary a snowbird is an elderly yankee who travels south when it is too cold in the northern climes of New York, Ohio or Michigan. Meriam-Webster generalized the brand more by saying a snowbird is “one who travels to warm climes for the winter”. While this last definition makes it difficult, I maintain Chris and I are not snowbirds but rather declare we are Weather Explorers. Further, we specialize in discovering and residing in mild to moderate weather areas. This tough job is fraught with risks such as mornings with frost and even the odd chance of having to use an air conditioner.

Probably easier to simply think of us as storm chasers without the storms.

Being weather explorers in constant search of our speciality we find ourselves residing in places typically associated with the snowbird genre. As a result we also quite often become erroneously classified as snowbirders. To clarify this common case of mistaken identity, Chris and I have come up with several characteristics to assist the observer. While some of the differences may be very subtle, two techniques have a proven track record and by using just these you can quickly spot snowbirders in their natural environment - out in the wild so to speak.

row_end1When first encountering what you believe may be a weather explorer or snowbirder you will need to make a gender assumption. If the gender is believed to be female, your next observation will at the head. If male, your next look should be directed at the feet. The reason will become clear shortly.

Weather explorers, particularily those with a mild to moderate weather speciality tend to not worry too much about their hair. Headgear such as hats are not for style but to provide shade or protection from variances in the weather (usually encounterd during moderate conditions – see rain). Snowbirders on the other hand are usually well turned out and take great care in not developing “hat hair”. When hatless, the female snowbirder can be quickly categorized by the purple, blue, or pink hair tints. Note, some experience is now required to distinguish intentional coloring from unintentional consequences of attempting to hide grey or white hair.

The male snowbirder is easily spotted by the combination of knee socks and sandals. A confirmation of this will be the bright plaid long golfing shorts worn in combination. Conversely old, worn, flip flops are a virtual sure sign of a weather explorer.


Obvious snowbird trap. No challenge. Avoid when possible.

There are many other differences and we highly recommend those of you who wish to perfect your observation skills to identify potential snowbird gathering areas. We recommend honing your skills while still challenging yourself by avoiding the obvious areas such as flea markets, anywhere in Florida, or Branson Misouri. Here are three common and easy ways to spot gathering areas:

First up, look to the grocery stores. Areas with multiple stores in fairly close proximity will need a bit of scouting out to ensure your time is not wasted. Yuma Arizona is a fine example with multiple Walmarts, Albertsons and some other grocery stores. A really quick and easy way to see if the store caters to the locals or to a snowbird population is to visit the cereal aisle. Any store that is fully stocked with sugary, cartooney covered cereal boxes yet has a descimated shredded wheat shelf (or other fiber type cereal) will definitely be a target rich environment heavily frequented by snowbirds.

Another dead give away? This one applies to stores having food court or other fast food type restaraunt within. The first clue will be if there is a line of shopping carts outside of the eating area with groceries bagged and waiting. Almost guaranteed, if you take a peek inside you will hit the jackpot with a plethora of snowbirds in their habitual light cotton plaid shirts, bermuda shorts and socks inside their sandals. For the most part, they will all be having a small ice cream cone.

A bit tougher one is the restaraunt and can require some research combined with on-scene scouting. Establishments offering buy one get one free, all you can eat, or have a history of serving very generous portions that can be split will be excellent candidates. If the parking lot is full between 4:30pm and 6:30pm yet empties out completely by 7:30pm your chances have improved expotentially. With this in mind, understand thepossibility of snowbird spotting is dramatically reduced the closer you approach the 7:30pm nesting time.

There are so many other ways to spot the snowbird and Chris and I encourage you to discover your own particular style. Just know there are also Weather Explorers like us out there and we aren't afraid of snow or bad storms; we just prefer to stay within our specialty.


Thursday, February 2, 2017

How Much is that RV’er in the Window

IMG_20170125_162736A common question we've received and one of  the most popular on RV'ing forums is “How much does it cost to RV full time?”. The answers typically vary as wildly as the daily weather in Idaho. Why? Simple. Different people do different things – sort of like the never ending debate on how to hang toilet paper.


For us a few things to know: We rarely boondock. Not because we don't care to but because I'm still unsure and when it comes to taking a new RV too far off the beaten track I would prefer to have a mentor handy (and some solar, got to get solar). Sure, we'll do a Walmart lot in a pinch and we even did a rest area in Marfa Texas while looking for the mystery lights but as for a regular adventure, it will have to wait a while. A few other things to know are:

We are camp hosts and volunteer at national and state parks. In return we usually receive a free, full hookup site for the duration.

We are members of Thousand Trails (TT) and pay yearly dues for camping in system campgrounds for no additional cost. (Nominal surcharge for 50 amp service in some select parks). Great deal for us when staying on the WA, OR, CA coast.

We do utilize Passport America, Good Sam, and Escapees memberships which give discounts ranging from 10 to 50% off campground fees.

What we budget for comes out to $1860 per month (except campground fees). This includes saving for anticipated expenses such as new tires in 7 years, replacing batteries as they go and other general maintenance. Some months we spend to the budget but most months we come under, banking the surplus for special nights out and stuff. (Can never get enough stuff)

Some examples of our expenditures last year:

Fuel: 7236 miles. 9Mpg at an average cost $2.49/gallon yields $2002.00 for the year.
CG Fees: $1431.59 (includes yearly TT dues). This equates to $286.32/month (Hosted seven months no charge)
Gas (jeep toad 28mpg): $511.68
Propane: $120.35 (two notes here: avg cost: $2.59/gal (ouch!), significant use increase due on-demand hot water and colder weather)
RV oil and filter change: $500

Of course there was more such as insurance, toys, gifts, gift toys and mandatory ice cream but I'm sure you get the idea and hopefully that will answer the question in part.

2017 plans

IMG_20170128_143735035_HDRWe began this year surprising ourselves and ending up in Yuma Arizona. Originally we had planned to hit up the San Diego area, visit some friends in SoCal (yes, Pam and Erica I mean you!) and generally vagabond it around the southwest the first two months awaiting for my sister and brother-in-law to make it down south but as seems to be the case with plans and us, they flew out the window - just a little bit. It began with our intended to stay at the Thousand Trails Pio Pico campground outside of San Diego. We had reservations for 3 weeks but upon arrival were so disappointed we quickly cancelled, turning it into only one very unpleasant but thankfully short overnight stop.

IMG_20170201_150248610We ended up in Yuma the next day at the Kofa Ko-op and luck was really with us as we were able to get a site on arrival. Pure luck at the height of the season as it was. Nice site, full hookups and some of the most friendly people you'll ever meet are here. We've enjoyed it so much those plans of vagabonding around aren't even a consideration anymore. So, we'll make ourselves at home, grab a date shake and kick back, enjoying the 70+ degree temperatures and loads of sunshine.

For hosting this year we'll be once again at the Lincoln Rock State Park outside of Wenatchee Washington. We hosted there last year and were very fortunate to have been invited back for the months of April and May.

In June we'll be moving up the road just a bit to outside of Pateros Washington and hosting at Alta Lake State Park. We've never been there so hope to sneak a peak sometime while at Lincoln Rock.

While not hosting at all we'll still have some very packed months come July, August, and September. July we'll return to the RV dealer to begin the process of finalizing our punch lists prior to our first year warranty expiring. Not a lot on the list right now, just stuff that wasn't cleared before we left last year and are a bit bothersome. I'm sure we'll be staying sort of in the area (+/- 500 miles), while this is going on but we have “planned” some breaks to attend our family reunion the first weekend of August and of course, being over in Oregon to observe the total eclipse and a forced visit to some hot springs.

That leaves September where we may not have clue where we'll be but we do know we'll be celebrating our 38th anniversary and my lovely bride's (mumble)th birthday. I do believe we'll try for the Canyonlands, Bryce, and Zion parks for short stays as we make a grand loop back to Coos Bay Oregon where we'll be hosting again at Sunset Bay to close out year.

I made the new year's resolution of writing a blog entry once a week and promptly failed at it for the month of January. As a mitigating circumstance please know just how difficult it is to become motivated when the sun is out, the weather warm and the to-do list has been “misplaced”.


Sunrise through the  windshield Kofa Ko-op